Face masks – Can a mask protect me from Coronavirus?

Face mask

What is the advice on face masks?

There has been a surge in sales for face masks in the UK amongst the panic over Coronavirus. Face masks are not a guarantee that you won’t catch the virus as it can transmit through the eyes and tiny viral particles on to other surfaces. The best chance to not catch or spread the illness is to follow the government guidelines on social distancing and self isolation.

Face masks however do offer some protection against droplets from coughs and sneezes. They are important personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers and patients.

The new advice is that we should wear a face mask out to the shops and they are definitely a good idea if you are looking after somebody who is unwell. Both the carer and patient if showing any symptoms should wear the masks for this to be effective. It is now also the law to wear a face mask on public transport.

Where do I get one, they have all sold out

If you cannot get hold of a face mask, or maybe just fancy using up some material you have at home, we have made a simple tutorial on making a cotton mask.

How to make a cotton face mask

  1. You will need – A piece of cotton fabric (synthetic fabric is not as breathable) roughly 26×21 cm. Flat elastic. Thread. Pins. Scissors. Sewing machine (you could also hand sew if you have the patience).
  2. Depending on the type of fabric you have, you may need to hem the fabric to reduce fraying. We turned the fabric in by 0.5cm and ran a simple running stitch all the way round.
  3. Next use some pins to make 3 evenly spaced pleats through the centre of the fabric. The pleats only need to be about 0.5cm each (if you are looking at the folded part on the back). Sew down the sides around 0.5cm from the edge of the fabric to hold the pleats in place.
  4. Turn the material over, fold down the top and bottom around 2/3cm each and pin at the edges to create two flaps. Insert your elastic here too, tucking it in a couple of cm. You will need to sew down the edge to secure the elastic, then turn and sew across the fabric 3/4cm to secure the flap at the edges. The flaps will hold in the tissue or kitchen roll like a pillow case fold.

Tip: If you don’t have elastic you could use ribbon, in which case you would use 4 separate pieces so you can tie it around your head; rather than 2 lengths of elastic.

What it should look like at the end

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